Soil pH: Getting to the Root of Plant Growth

Soil. That brown, sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy, stuff from which your plants and grass grow is a carefully balanced micro ecosystem teeming with life. Packed full of nutrients and microorganisms, healthy soil is key to creating plant growth. These nutrients and microorganisms require a very specific environment to grow and feed plant life. At the heart of this environment is soil with a proper Ph factor.

 

What is pH and why does it matter?

Soil pH describes the acidity or alkinity of the soil. pH is expressed through the pH factor, numerical scale ranging from 0.0 (acidic) to 14.0 (alkaline) with 7.0 as the value indicating neutral (neither acidic or alkaline). A simple soil test can easily determine your soil’s pH factor. The pH factor will show if your soil is too acidic, has too much alkinity, or is somewhere in-between. The pH factor is important because it influences factors related to plant growth, such as: bacteria (both good and bad), nutrient leaching (the loss of nutrients), availability of nutrients, toxicity, and soil structure. Most lawns and household plants grow best in soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (approximately a pH factor of 5.5-7). If the soil test results show a factor outside this range, you may struggle with the health of your soil and ability to grow grass and plants. Luckily, soil pH can be fixed!

 

How to correct your pH

There are several products available with the ability to increase either the alkinity or acidity of soil. These products include: lime and dolomite, that can increase alkinity, and ammonium sulfate and sulfur, to increase acidity. Understanding proper application of these additives depends heavily on soil type (sand, silt, clay, etc) and your total square footage. Over application of lime and dolomite can cause complete loss of acidity, while overapplication of ammonium sulfate and sulfur can burn plant roots. It is truly a balancing act!

 

Humic DG

Our favorite product to better soil pH is a soil conditioner known as Humic DG. Humic DG is a granular comprised primarily of dry humate and micro sized humric particles. Humic acid is a natural occurring soil conditioner. It has a unique carbon-based matrix that includes high concentrations of both trace minerals and organic acids. Humic acid increases a plant’s ability to absorb essential nutrients while improving soil structure. It also can stimulate beneficial microorganisms which can improve the pH of your soil long-term. Humic DG provides all the benefits of humric acid in an easy to spread, biodegradable form. It is highly soluble in soil and works effectively to foster an environment encouraging plant growth and nutrient absorption. Humic DG is the must have for well-conditioned and balanced soil.

 

The crew at Country Club Landscaping are soil experts! Through our soil services we provide the testing, products, and applications needed to foster soil ideal for plant and lawn growth. If you struggle with growing healthy grass and plants our soil services are only a phone call away!

Plant Health Care: Steps to Take Now to Prepare for Winter

As temperatures cool, and the days become shorter, we welcome the return of school, football, and all things pumpkin spice. We pull out sweaters, stack wood for the fireplace, and plan for the holidays. Just like us, our landscape is preparing for the transition to cooler weather. There are both natural processes and active steps we can take to help plants and greenery survive through the winter.  It may be newly fall, but winter is right around the corner making it the perfect time to start the winterization process.

How Plants Prepare

We’ve all seen the beauty of fall colors – trees changing from summer green to beautiful and rich shades of red, orange, and yellow. We see annuals, perennials, and other plants slowly loses their blooms and leaves. It may seem sudden, but our landscape has been preparing all summer for this specific process. Through the growing season plants and trees have meticulously stored extra water and nutrients, creating stores of food to live off during the winter. As the season changes, food production slows down and the plants begin to shed their green leaves and bright blooms to prepare for hibernation.  To the naked eye it may appear as though your lawn, plants, and trees are “dead”; however, the root systems, bark, and seeds are very much alive and waiting for the first signs of spring to begin their growth process all over again.

How We Can Help

Although plants have their own natural process to prepare for winter, there are proactive steps we can take to ensure beautiful blooms and lush greenery come spring. The trick is to begin early in the fall for the best outcomes.

For the lawn: Now is the time for aeration and overseeding. Aeration is the process of removing small cores of compacted soil and grass to increase water and nutrient flow to your lawn’s root system. The extra space also allows roots to grow further into the ground creating stronger roots and healthier grass. Aeration pairs perfectly with overseeding to create hardier lawns year-round. By filling in bare spots with a variety of resilient grass types, lawns are less susceptible disease and stay greener longer. Since healthy landscapes start from the ground up, take advantage of the cooler weather to add a soil conditioner. Soil conditioner will increase the vibrancy of your lawn while reducing brown spots. Finally, to ensure good growth in the spring, continue to maintain your regular lawn maintenance until first frost, and plan for fall fertilization and weed control. Spraying now for fall weeds is more effective in controlling their growth than during summer months.

For trees and plants: Much like your lawn maintenance, keeping to your pruning and trimming schedule will help plants and trees flourish the following spring. By pruning back shrubs and trees during their dormant season, you reduce the risk of devastating disease and reduce the risk of broken and damaged limbs that can be weighed down with snow and ice. Plan to fertilize trees and shrubs during this time as well. Fall fertilization increases soil productivity, giving tress and shrubs a nutrient boost as they push through their last growth before winter. This is also a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. The cool air and warm soil create a welcoming environment for bulbs and seedlings. Plants should go into the ground no later than the end of October for maximum effectiveness. As nights get closer to freezing temperatures, laying a fresh layer of mulch or hay on flowerbeds will help to protect more delicate plants from hard freezes.

By properly preparing your lawn and landscape for the winter you set the stage for gorgeous spring growth. As part of our Plant Health Care Program and regular services, Country Club Landscaping is happy to help all our customers take full advantage of the fall. We have the timeline down to a science resulting in plush lawns and beautiful landscapes. Call today to learn more!